Reconciliation and Reality

We received a good number of positive comments on Ann Lamont’s article Genesis: the roots of the Gospel. But a negative one came from John P, who said:

This article includes too many issues irrelevant to sharing the gospel. It confuses forgiveness and faith with a particular limited imperative view of science.

The exchange that followed with CMI’s Dr Carl Wieland is one we think has teaching value, especially as the sorts of views John subsequently espoused are becoming increasingly common among evangelicals. Though individuals can be well motivated, such ‘overspiritualizing’ in a seeming attempt to negate the reliance of the gospel in Genesis history comes close to earning a title like neo-Gnostic.

Carl wrote back:

Many thanks for bothering to comment. Could you please indicate what you mean by a ‘limited imperative view of science’? It is of particular interest because quite apart from any process of reasoning to show how these issues are logically foundational to the gospel, we deal almost daily with people who find that these issues are of vital relevance to sharing their faith effectively, and often were crucial in their own salvation. People who are actively involved in street evangelism are particularly adamant that these are the ‘cutting edge’ issues of our time, and that dealing with them effectively (which includes having answers as to how the dinosaurs could fit into Genesis history, where all the different races come from, how Cain could find a wife, etc.) are the key to successful outreach. I myself recall giving a talk to a large audience at Stellenbosch, South Africa, mostly uni students. After that, the pastor gave a follow-up no-gimmicks, no-emotional-overlay appeal based on straightforward preaching on sin and salvation, and precisely 30 students made a public first-time profession of faith in Christ.

An article written by one of those street evangelists is [found on our site.]

JOHN:

The gospel is not dependent upon a six day view of creation or a claim organic death came upon all living creatures as a result of man’s moral fall from God which CMI uphold. It confuses the issue of sin and reconciliation, and introduces unsupported natural science in an attempt to explain the origins of the organic reality of physical death. Which is irrelevant to the nature of sin.

The good news is however dependent upon the fact that sin separates one’s spirit from God; as in the case of Adam and Eve, their spirits were separated from God on the very day they sinned by participating in a moral violation of God’s holy character. Sin is moral and affects spiritual relationships and not preexisting organic natural science. Only repentance and atonement for sin can restore that relationship of spirit to the offended party—namely God. [One is considered in Biblical culture already spiritually dead in sin even though physically alive.] Christ gave up his perfect spirit to the Father and was resurrected by the approval of God on the third day and this verified a perfect atonement for the sin of every man. Man is eternally restored to God because of the atonement of Christ giving his holy life to the Father. Making the life and character of Christ Lord in one’s life restores us as a son of God. The unforgiven sinner in eternity is separated from God while the reconciled will enjoy the eternal presence of God. They both have eternal reality but different destinations. One with God one without God.

To introduce natural science while dealing with spiritual concepts when a person recognises their sin takes them into a carnal universe rather than matters of the soul and spirit. Of course people who attend your meeting are expecting you to deal with natural science. But people whose hearts are burdened with guilt do not need a science lesson….

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